- Research Interests:
My research focuses on aspects of protistan evolution and phylogeny. Traditional and molecular technologies are merged to provide a more detailed and enlightened understanding of these organisms. My major groups of interest at present are the Rhodoplantae (red algae) and Phaeophyceae (brown algae). A major international project currently ongoing with regards to my systematics research is my role as a key partner in the Tree of Life RedToL project (dblab.rutgers.edu/redtol/home). In addition to the systematics of marine plants, I have initiated (as Marine Theme Leader to International Barcode of Life project ibol.org) two substantial international projects that will use genetic barcoding to identify ultimately all of the species of marine macroalgae on the globe (ALGA Algal Life Global Audit) and the phytoplankton of eastern Canada (EESEP Environmental & Economic survey of eastern phytoplankton). Both of these are ambitious projects that will use genetic tools to establish unequivocally the species complement under each theme and then to provide detailed information in the form of morphological, anatomical and distributional notes for each species. We are particularly interested in distributional changes in the face of climate change, notably trans-Arctic migrations in Canada of Pacific species into the North Atlantic, and in identification of cryptic introductions (overlooked because of their morphological similarity to native species). We are also using our molecular tools to explore distributional differences between phases in brown algal species with heteromorphic alternation of generations (separate haploid and diploid phases in the life history that look very different to one another). In these algae all of our understanding of distribution and ecology is based on the large visible phase and thus all of the decisions regarding monitoring and conservation are limited to this one phase in the life history. To comprehend fully a species distribution and ecology, and thus make informed scientific conclusions and management decisions, knowledge on the alternative micro-phase in the life history must also be generated. Our goal is to develop techniques to render inclusion of these phases in ecological studies simpler so that researchers will be able to get the full distributional and ecological picture for these species. Another critical aspect to my research involves long term (temporal) monitoring of algal diversity along the New Brunswick coast of the Bay of Fundy. We have noticed a dramatic change in the richness and distribution of many species of algae over the past decade with all indications that the Bay is under serious environmental stress.
Executive Council (Symposium Co-convenor), Northeast Algal Society 2007-2009
Editorial Board, European Journal of Phycology
Feldman Fund Committee, Phycological Society of America
- Frank Shipley Collins Award, NEAS (2007)
- E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship, NSERC (2003-2005)
- Luigi Provasoli Award: outstanding paper in Journal of Phycology (1997)
- Darbaker Award: Phycology award from the Botanical Society of America (1996)
- Australian Research Council Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship (1994)
- Recent publications:
- Hamsher, S.E., Evans, K.M., Mann, D.G. Poulícková, A. & Saunders, G.W. 2011. Barcoding diatoms: exploring alternatives to COI-5P. Protist In press.
Sloan, N.A., McDevit, D.C. & Saunders, G.W. 2011. Further to the occurrence of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) in British Columbia. Can. Field Nat. In press.
Le Gall, L. & Saunders G.W. 2010. Establishment of a DNA-barcode library for the Nemaliales (Rhodophyta) from Canada and France uncovers overlooked diversity in the species Nemalion helminthoides (Velley) Batters. Crypt. Algol. 31: 403-421.
Saunders, G.W. & Kucera, H. 2010. An evaluation of rbcL, tufA, UPA, LSU and ITS as DNA barcode markers for the marine green macroalgae. Crypt. Algol. 31: 487-528.
Saunders, G.W. & Clayden, S.L. 2010. Note. Providing a valid epithet for the species widely known as Halosacciocolax kjellmanii S. Lund (Palmariales, Rhodophyta) Rhodophysema kjellmanii sp. nov. Phycologia 6: 628.
Saunders, G.W. & McDonald, B. 2010. DNA barcoding reveals multiple overlooked Australian species of the red algal order Rhodymeniales (Florideophyceae), with resurrection of Halopeltis J. Agardh and description of Pseudohalopeltis gen. nov. Botany 88: 637-665.
Clayden, S.L. & Saunders, G.W. 2010. Recognition of Rubrointrusa membranacea gen. et comb. nov., Rhodonematella subimmersa gen. et comb. nov. (with a re-interpretation of the life history) and the Meiodiscaceae fam. nov. within the Palmariales (Rhodophyta). Phycologia 49: 283-300.
McDevit, D.C. & Saunders, G.W. 2010. A DNA barcode examination of the Laminariaceae (Phaeophyceae) in Canada reveals novel biogeographical and evolutionary insights. Phycologia 49: 235-248.
Le Gall, L. & Saunders, G.W. 2010. DNA barcoding is a powerful tool to uncover algal diversity: a case study of the Phyllophoraceae (Gigartinales, Rhodophyta) in the Canadian flora. J. Phycol. 46: 374-389.
Clarkston, B.E. & Saunders, G.W. 2010. A comparison of two DNA barcode markers for species discrimination in the red algal family Kallymeniaceae (Gigartinales) with a description of Euthora timburtonii. Botany 88: 119-131.
Verbruggen, H., Maggs, C.A., Saunders, G.W., Le Gall, L., Yoon, H-S. & De Clerck, O. 2010. Red algal tree of life: data mining approach identifies certainties and future research priorities and data requirements. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 16
Schneider, C.W., Lane, C.E. & Saunders, G.W. 2010. Notes on the marine algae of the Bermudas. 11. More additions to the benthic flora and a phylogenetic assessment of Halymenia pseudofloresii (Halymeniales, Rhodophyta) from its type locality. Phycologia 49: 154-168. (cover article)
Bates, C.R., Saunders, G.W. & Chopin, T. 2009. Historical versus contemporary measures of seaweed biodiversity in the Bay of Fundy. Botany 87: 1066-1076.
Le Gall, L., Payri, C., Bittner, L. & Saunders, G.W. 2009. Multigene phylogenetic analyses support recognition of the Sporolithales ord. nov. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 54: 302-305.
Pueschel, C.M. & Saunders, G.W. 2009. Ramicrusta textilis sp. nov. (Peyssonneliaceae, Rhodophyta), an anatomically complex Caribbean alga that overgrows corals. Phycologia 48: 480-491. (cover article)
McDevit, D.C. & Saunders, G.W. 2009. On the utility of DNA barcoding for species differentiation among brown macroalgae (Phaeophyceae) including a novel extraction protocol. Phycol. Res. 57: 131-141.
Saunders, G.W. 2009. Routine DNA barcoding of Canadian Gracilariales (Rhodophyta) reveals the invasive species Gracilaria vermiculophylla in British Columbia. Molec. Ecol. Res. 9 (Suppl. 1): 140-150.